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Did you know students enrolled in the College of Biological Sciences (CBS) get to spend more than one week with their fellow first-year students before classes even start? CBS freshmen participate in three different programs to support them with their transition to college life, get to know their college, and make new friends. 

First, students with participate in freshman orientation the summer before their first year. During this overnight visit to campus, students learn about important resources and opportunities, register for courses, and meet their acadmic adviser.

CBS students also participate in the Nature of Life program. This three-day retreat that takes place at the Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories, the University of Minnesota's off-campus research station. A unique orientation to the College of Biological Sciences, students will spend time getting to know students, faculty and staff, and the College of Biological Sciences. 


First-year CBS students at Nature of Life

Finally, first year students begin their college experience during Welcome Week! During this exciting week of events, students will make friends throughout CBS and the University, learn to navigate campus and the Twin Cities, meet with college representatives, and explore resources throughout the University. (And during the Pride and Spirit event, they learn U of M cheers and songs and form a giant "M" on the TCF Bank Stadium field. It's pretty impressive! Check out this video of the Class of 2014 creating the "M".)

The Institute for Math and its Applications (IMA) was founded in 1982 by the National Science Foundation. Its mission is to "increase the impact of mathematics by fostering research of a truly interdisciplinary nature, linking mathematics of the highest caliber and important science and technological problems from other disciplines and industry."

Part of their work includes hosting workshops, programs, public lectures, and other events on campus. You should take a look at their great calendar of events!

This month, they are hosting a special screening of a documentary celebrating the work of female mathematicians during WWII.

"This documentary tells the story of four women 'computers,' presenting their exhilarating successes in aiding the war effort and the moral dilemmas they faced. WWII ushered in a new era for women in the workforce, including female mathematicians. In 1942, the United States military began recruiting college-educated female mathematicians to work as human 'computers.' Equipped with desktop calculators and a differential analyzer (a predecessor to the world's first electronic computer), these women computed firing tables which improved the accuracy and effectiveness of the Allies' weapons. Working 6 days a week, 24 hours a day from a lab at the University of Pennsylvania, the women were considered sub-professionals and paid only $2,000 a year, but their efforts had profound effects on the war and on the dawn of computer programming."

The screening will be held on Thursday, February 24 from 5-6 p.m. in 130 Murphy Hall on campus. This documentary sounds fascinating and I will definitely be attending! If you are able to travel to campus, I encourage you to attend too. The screening is free, but the IMA requests that you RSVP by emailing them at this address: imitrea@ima.umn.edu.

Did you know that there is a major in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) called "Recreation, Park and Leisure Studies"? This major is designed for students who have a interest in enhancing people's recreational lives (anything outside of work). I first learned about the program when I entered CEHD as a junior studying Human Resource Development.

Recreation, Park, and Leisure Studies allows students to conduct hands-on activites in their curriculum to gain a thorough understanding of the principles of cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development. They also study the application of these principles to different age groups, such as enrichment programs for students k-12, or adults looking for new and alternative ways to stay mentally and/or physically fit.

This past fall, students in the Recreation, Park and Leisure Studies major had an awesome opportunity to travel to the beautiful country of Costa Rica as part of course called "Outdoor Programming and Environmental Education." Students and Program Director Connie Magnuson spent winter break combining their curriculum with cultural experiences. Check out this slideshow of photos from their trip: Costa Rica Study Abroad.

Study abroad opportunities are available to students in any major at the U of M--in fact, the University is home to one of the largest study abroad programs in the nation! To learn more, visit the U of M Learning Abroad website

Physics Force is a U of M group of professors and high school teachers whose goal is to make math and physics fun! Each year, they entertain more than 20,000 students at their annual shows. 

Their largest show of the year will take place tomorrow, Thursday, February 10, at the Minneapolis Convention Center at 7pm. Best of all, it's free! They do ask that you pre-register, which you can do online here.

Physics Force shows aren't just cool demonstrations. The team explains the physics behind everything they do. I learned some new tricks when I saw the Physics Force last fall. As they say on their website, "Physics Force goes above and beyond (literally) to educate and entertain. It is the interaction between the Force members -- with their blend of slapstick, prop comedy and science."

One of the demonstrations they have planned for tomorrow night is called "Monkey and Hunter." It involves shooting a billiard ball from a cannon at a physicist suspended from a 20 foot tower. You can preview this demonstration on the Physics Force website!

They also have a lot of other videos of their demonstrations, all of which I recommend.  To give you a taste, watch the video below - and keep your eye on the barrel.


With the spring semester already into its fifth week, I thought now might be a good time to take a look at some of my blog's highlights from this past year. Here are a few posts that I really enjoyed writing:

Freshman seminars at the U of M

Great opportunities for aspiring communicators

Deciphering a 400-year-old map

Be sure to check back in soon for new entries!

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